Montgomery Co. Opens Door to Short-term Home Rentals

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Council passed a bill that will allow homeowners to open their doors to people looking for short-term rentals, like those offered on websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

The vote was 9 to 0 in favor of the measure, which will allow homeowners to rent rooms in their homes for up to 120 days if they are not on the premises, and all year long when the homeowner is present.

The maximum number of renters allowed on any property would be six adults, with a maximum of two adults in each room. Homeowners would also have to notify their neighbors when they apply for a license to offer short-term rentals and homeowners associations would have the chance to appeal or challenge short-term rentals among their members.

Council member Hans Riemer, who supported the bill, said it allows residents who might be struggling financially to stay in their homes. Riemer also said the short-term rentals allow people assigned to federal facilities such as the National Institutes of Health to find affordable places to live. He added that passage of the bill benefits homeowners: “It’s a way for our residents to participate in the economy that we have here — this federal-based economy.”

When proposed, the bill raised concerns among the hospitality industry, but council member Craig Rice dismissed them. “For those folks who somehow say that this is new, and this is going to somehow destroy the industry — that’s not really the case.” Rice said the trend toward short-term rentals is a sign of an evolving market, but not one that will harm the hospitality industry.

The bill will not affect the jurisdictions of Brookeville, Poolesville, Laytonsville, Rockville, Barnesville, Gaithersburg and Washington Grove, which are not subject to the county’s zoning code.

The bill will go into effect in July 2018.

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